Review: The Terror

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(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

Title: The Terror

Author/Editor: Dan Simmons

I really enjoyed this book.

It’s a great novel overall — outstanding, realistic details; a deep sense of dread. The inhospitable environment of the Arctic really brings out the possibilities for despair and desperation. The depictions of slow death by scurvy alone could qualify this for horrific reading, which makes the presence of an enigmatic creature an enormous, gore-soaked cherry on an icy, glacial sundae.

Also, the book has a surprisingly-satisfying ending.

Overall, it may prove to be a bit dry and dense for some, especially with its inclusion of extensive detail pertaining to the ship, but I found that to only work in its favor here. While not as detailed as, say, Patrick O’Brien gets, it still maintained a richly-vivid amount of specificity.

Normally, I’m a sucker for innovative or stylistic language, and the writing here was very plain, almost expository. This usually disappoints me, though here it actually works for the gestalt of the novel.

There were a few things that it could have done better. One is the amount of repetition that occurred. Lengthy roll-calls of the victims were common, as were their counterparts, detailed catalogs of the still-living crew. Though this might be an attempt to subtly portray the psychology of the ship’s captain by running over such lists repeatedly, formally, it did get a bit tedious at times. (Me: “Yes, I know that bosun’s mate died; it just happened three pages ago.”) The other thing that could have been improved was the depth of character. Except for one or two, they were just a little too broad. I won’t say it worked against the effectiveness of the novel outright, because it didn’t. I just wonder if it could have been even more effective were there more depth to more characters.

I can also say that the book delivered exactly to my expectations, based on the feelings I’d had from looking at the cover. My glib-yet-honest opinion.

Final Rating: 9 out of 10


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